If you haven’t noticed, the Syracuse Orange have a bit of an attendance problem. Not necessarily with men’s basketball — though support drops off considerably in perceived “down” years. But in football and women’s basketball, SU’s crowds rank pretty poorly in the power conferences.
It appears that Syracuse Athletics is working toward addressing these issues, however.
As the Daily Orange reported, an outline of the 2017-18 season pass and new rewards program will be sent out to current students on Wednesday.
Students will be presented with options to purchase a season pass for football, men’s basketball, men’s lacrosse and women’s basketball (SU’s four biggest sports). The deal will cost anywhere from $200 (basic student pass) to $300 (student elite pass), with each of the four tiers providing progressively better benefits.
The $300 student elite pass is the only pass that would cost more than the 2016-17 combined football/basketball season ticket package for students. But this also includes Otto’s Army apparel, priority for away game tickets, a football practice invite and an $80 Orange Club donation.
What they’re trying to drive is not only the usual purchases from freshman and sophomores, but the less-likely juniors and seniors — and then translate that four-year support into more valuable credits once those students are alums.
Otto’s Army implemented a system like this during my senior year (2009-10), but that only ran during your time at school. While I attended every football and men’s basketball game, I attended far less lacrosse and women’s lacrosse games. A system that not only rewarded my attendance now, but down the road, could’ve changed that (for me, at least).
This is not the first time SU’s attempted this, but it seems to be the best-backed and well-researched iteration yet. As mentioned, Otto’s Army has been at this awhile — plus other ACC schools have similar point systems in place. Mark Coyle had something like this ready to go before he went to a “special place.” Syracuse gave a rewards system a shot in 2011 or so, but didn’t really put the support behind it at the time, so it died off quickly.
And that’s the key to all of this: Making sure Syracuse is fully behind this effort and wiling to put in the work.
TNIAAM’s bemoaned SUA’s lack of support for programs or promotional savvy in the past. While some of the ideas coming out had quality goals, the athletic department did not have the means to execute on them.
This feels a lot different, though. Wildhack’s very vocal about it, and him being a fan and alum himself likely provides some extra motivation. He’s hired more business development folks under him than we’ve had at SU before. So with people like associate athletics director Anthony Di Fino dedicated to tasks like this, it also increases the likelihood that it sticks as a program.
Syracuse athletics are in an interesting time right now, and one that could either make or break student support -- perhaps for the foreseeable future. The football team is exciting, but that excitement needs to start turning into wins (Dino Babers is working on it). Jim Boeheim’s going to stick around longer, which shows stability for men’s basketball. But the program’s either missed the NCAA Tournament completely or made the Final Four of late -- no in between.
Women’s basketball and men’s lacrosse have their own questions, even if they don’t pull the freight the way the top two sports do.
The success of programs like this, and the attendance boost to show for it, is imperative for the Orange right now if they want student and alumni support to continue into the future. A dip at this juncture sets a precedent for future students that “we don’t show up for games” and that has a lasting, terrible effect.
Best of luck implementing this, SU. It’s the best sign yet that we’re serious about (permanently) fixing this attendance issue, and the ills it could cause down the road.